It’s that glorious time of year here in NYC when the Cinekink film festival returns to the Anthology Film Archives to entertain, educate, and bring oft-hidden communities of kinksters and the curious together. I’m loving it so far! I’ve been chosen as a juror to help select winners from this year’s short film offerings, which has been tough already given the quality of many of the shorts, and I’ll be interviewing directors this Saturday after the Bring It! porn marathon, which is, of course, the most anticipated part of the festival for horny little me.
In the meantime, however, a few observations that will probably all get some more attention later on, when I have a bit more time for reflection.
1) Vajazzling. Cinekink has brought me my first-ever sighting of an in-porn vajazzlement! What’s hilarious about this, besides the fact that vajazzling is even a thing, is that the film in which it glitters is one I had already seen. At home, on my teeny tiny little television. I even reviewed it–positively, because it’s really a great film. But on my teeny tiny little television at home, I didn’t notice the jewels where pubic hair should be because, weirdly, the woman’s pubic region is hardly shown at all from the front throughout her sex scene. When I was watching Cabaret Desire on the big screen on Wednesday, however, I caught a glimpse of some raised bumps in the pubes region and thought, “Either that’s a vajazzle, or he’s eating stone-ground mustard off her private parts right now, and I REALLY don’t think he’s doing that.” Now, reader, please understand that I was very hungry when that thought occurred to me, but also that the color scheme of the sparkly lumps on her pelvis did in fact fit with the idea of mustard seeds, ok? I am a little crazy, but I’m not that crazy, all things told.
But ok, back to vajazzling. This is a trend that I thought had a small upstart kind of flame that went out very quickly, but there it was, in a film that I happen to know was filmed last summer. Now, it was filmed in Europe last summer, and we all know that Europe and America operate on different time lines vis-a-vis trends, but still, I was intrigued. I have no issue, really, with vajazzling. I mean, I love vulvas. And I love sparkly things. So all in all, it seems like a win-win, except for this little nagging, ultra-feminist, “But vulvas are beautiful all by themselves” voice that keeps squeaking at me from the back row. But I mean, why not get some sparkles put in down there for giggles, right?
But then it occurred to me that this actress actually did it for a porno she was starring in. I wonder if that was a giggle. Like, was she so amused by the fact that she was doing something as out-there as performing in a porno? Or was she worried about the lack of inherent glitter on her pubic area, and she wanted to fix that before anyone saw it up close? Or is vajazzling like a thing in the Spanish porn community? I have no way of knowing. But… weird.
2) Anyway, the word “vajazzling” got me thinking about the word “vagina,” because I was sitting there in a dark movie theater listening to wet, “slap-slap-slap” noises as the film was playing and thinking, “The ‘g’ in ‘vagina’ is pronounced like a ‘j’ because there’s an ‘i’ after it. So when the ‘i’ is taken away, it would be pronounced like a hard ‘g.’ So that means you must have to turn the ‘g’ into a ‘j’ in ‘vajazzling’ or else it’d sound all wrong, but then you’re changing the whole root word. This is WAY too confusing!” And it is. The word “vagina” is a huge pain in just about every way. It’s super unsexy, as Eve Ensler pointed out. It sounds very medical. It’s not a pretty word to look at, and obviously, trying to play with it to make it more fun, a la vajazzling, makes it even weirder. Like, now there’s jazz somehow incorporated into lady bits. Because otherwise it’d be “gazz” and then you’re just talking about the angry purple-haired girl from Invader Zim. It’s ridiculous.
But then, do we want to settle for “pussy”? That’s so inappropriate for many contexts. Or there’s always “vulva,” which is more correct, actually, in many contexts. The inside is the vagina. The outside is the vulva. But “vulva” is even less attractive. It sounds like a lace doily on your great aunt’s dining room table. Just. Ick. There’s got to be a way around this. There’s got to be a better term. Anyone?
3) Asexuality and shame. This is a huge topic and one that I will revisit shortly, hopefully with an interview with the director of the documentary (A)sexual, which screened at Cinekink last night. So I won’t get into too much detail here. But here’s the gist of it: in clips from television interviews with the founder of the asexual movement, sexual people lightly mocked and also shamed asexual people for identifying as asexual. Asexuality–the state of being uninterested in sex, and a budding identification for about 1% of the population who don’t experience sexual attraction–was discussed in the same voice that homosexuality used to be. There were stories of unaccepting families, worried friends, intolerance, and shame. This was mystifying. In the Q&A session afterward, Angela Tucker, the director, said that she was surprised by the vitriolic response a lot of people had to “something that doesn’t affect them at all.” The same could be said for defenders of “traditional marriage” and other bigots who routinely shame people living sexual lifestyles they don’t understand, but that’s the thing. Being shamed for one’s sexuality is terrible, but commonplace. One could assume, then, that people who renounce sexuality for a life without it would be free from the cycle of fear and shame that centers around sex in our culture, but (A)sexual proved that assumption to be false. It seems that nothing involving sex, or the lack thereof–no lifestyle, no identification, no practice, no lack of practice–can be right. There is shame in every corner. What the hell are we supposed to do?
The answer, I think, was in the short film by Courtney Trouble and Tina Horn, What Makes Us Queer, which screened directly before (A)sexual: just fucking do what the hell you want and be open, loving, honest, and fearless. And just do it. If you’re going to be shamed and castigated for your choices no matter what–just do what works for you.
And that’s it for now, folks. Stay tuned! I’ll be returning to Cinekink on Saturday for the smutty stuff!